Great article from National Geographic about a very misunderstood, feared and attacked animal.
In my [world famous bat reseacher, Merlin Tuttle] entire 55-year long career studying bats, I have never been attacked by a one. I have never documented an aggressive bat attacking anyone, and I have never contracted a disease from a bat.
Although most people are uneasy about bats and a little fearful, the reality is that they have probably the finest safety record on our planet when it comes to animals living harmoniously around people without harming anybody.
Bats are key role-players in insect consumption and keeping insect populations in balance, pollinating flowers and dispersing plant seeds. They sustain whole ecosystems from rainforests to deserts; they live on remote Pacific islands to the Andes. One bat can catch over 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour and are the dominant predators of night flying insects.
Without bats we could be buried in pests. They are critically important to the ecosystem and if we would let them, they would help us reduce our dependence upon pesticides by controlling crop pests.
I don’t know of any group that is more fascinating or diverse. They’ve been around since the age of dinosaurs; they were here tens of millions of years before there was ever a human on the planet. They’re just incredible animals, and anyone who understands bats ends up liking them.
On our small country property I years ago erected a couple of bat houses to provide them shelter.
I want bats here. When we are outside in the evenings we often see them noiselessly winging their way around the night sky attracted to the mosquitoes that have designs on our blood. Without them we’d find the nights unbearable.
Yet, like so many other animals, bats are fighting for survival thanks to human ignorance, cruelty and superstition. We seriously need to get a grip, and soon. Stop fearing and begin loving the wonderful beauty and diversity of nature around us.